Dish & Tin [Flash Fiction]

I woke up in the evening, oversleeping my alarm clock by two hours, as usual, and stumbled out of bed to look something to put in my mouth. My stomach was like a gaping black hole that was consuming all my other organs into it, excruciatingly slowly. I wasn’t sure when I had eaten last, but it had probably been sometime during that day, although the light outside made me think it was dawn rather than dusk. I always feel effed up like that after a nap, but hey, what else am I supposed to do when I work nights and still have to get up in the morning for classes? Naps are the only way I can keep my eyes open and my wits about me. Last week someone on the same block I work on got some serious booze stolen from her because she wasn’t paying attention to the monitors. Working at a convenience store during the night shift is no joke. If anything is missing from the register it comes right out of my paycheck.

My disgusting roommates left the sink full of dishes, like they always do. I hate them. I really do. I sometimes have violent dreams about what I do to them – I think I’ve killed them in several different ways, all painful and quite bloody. I’ve been watching too many gory tv shows lately, I guess. Or maybe I’ve always had a sick imagination. It’s kind of hard to know, because when I was a kid, sandwiched right between three older and three younger siblings, I kind of lost track of whose ideas were whose. When you share a room all your life, even in college, you sometimes end up losing track of when you come up with things and when other people give you ideas. I know from psych classes that everyone influences everyone, whether we want to or not. That’s just how it is, I guess. Makes sense. I don’t think I’ve really influenced anyone, though. I’m pretty boring.

Here’s an example. I always eat the same thing after I nap. Like now. I scraped out one of the pots that one of the bitch roommates left in the sink – I don’t even know what was in there, it smelled so foul, I think she might have marinated something in Bud Light – and then I washed it a few more times and then I made myself spaghetti with tomato sauce. Best dinner in the world. When everything sucks, you end up kind of taking pleasure in the little things, like how pasta always tastes the same, reliable like the old rag doll I brought from home and keep hidden under my pillow so no one will see it and laugh at me.

After I ate, I threw my plate into the sink. It broke. I think I threw it a bit too hard. I stood there for a while, with my hands on the counter, and tried to convince myself not to pick up the pieces of the plate. To just leave them there and let the others deal with it. But I ended up picking them up. And, like I always do, I also ended up doing all the dishes in the sink. I don’t know why I do it. It’s not like they ever say thank you, or even acknowledge that the dishes have been magically washed while they’ve been away, doing whatever it is that they do. For all I know they actually think that we have a magical house-elf that cleans everything for us. But I just can’t leave dishes in the sink before going to work. It’s too depressing to know that when I come back home I’ll have all those dishes sitting there, just looking at me, the stains on them like growths from a bad skin condition. That happens sometimes anyway, even after I wash them, because the roommates sometimes have parties when I’m not there to make a noise complaint to the security company on campus. And then I end up doing those dishes at five in the morning, before I take a shower.

I pick up my coat and my book-bag, and my tin with the weed in it and I leave the room. So okay, so I smoke weed. I promised Mom that I’d quit, but I deserve one luxury, don’t I? It’s all my money, after all. And I need something to take the edge off. Something to keep me going.

A (Slightly Ignorant) Update

Hello all.

I’ve been remiss in updating you on some of the recent happenings, including the reason for my very on-and-off blogging during the past few months. As some of you know, I was deeply involved in my sophomore year at college since September of 2011 – this past semester has been especially hectic and crazy, which is why I’ve been blogging less frequently. Here are some highlights of my semester:

-I assistant stage-managed for a production of Macbeth.
-I played the part of Cynthia in Tom Stoppard’s play “The Real Inspector Hound.”
-I read a few incredible books, including: “Cousin Bette” by Balzac, “Sons and Lovers” by D. H. Lawrence, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, “The Brothers Karamzov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, “Snuff” by Terry Pratchett and “The Once and Future King” by T. H. White. Not all of these were for class.
-I spent time with amazing people who I love very, very much and who I currently miss with an ache.
-I discovered that I enjoy writing in screenplay format. (There’s so much white space!)
…and, last but not least:
-I got into a study abroad program and will be spending next year at Oxford University in Oxford, England.

See? Busy.

I’m currently back in Israel with my mother and my childhood friends. Home base is strange after spending such a good year in New York and school, but I’m slowly getting used to it again.

And, I have a new project. Which will be the subject of my post tomorrow.

The Library’s Tale

Once upon a time, there was a library. The library had three floors, each with its own distinct personality, although the decor was very similar in all. There were wooden tables, wooden chairs, some beanbags and many shelves of books upon books.

The library liked its function and enjoyed being useful to people. It knew that it was even a comfort to many, and that felt good. But there were two periods of time, three weeks each, that came every year, and which the library dreaded.

These were the weeks when its doors remained open twenty-four hours a day. Most of the time, it got at least seven hours of peace and quiet every night, and while its doors were shut it could breathe in peace and maybe even nap, allowing the books to whisper among themselves and the wooden tables and chairs to stretch their legs and take strolls up and down the aisles before becoming stationary again in the morning.

None of that could happen during those three week periods, though. Instead, the tables and chairs cramped up from the need to stay in the same place for days; the books got bored and sometimes allowed the humans to hear them whispering (which was dangerous); and the library itself, poor thing, began to smell a little bit, to become shabby around the edges, and to feel pale and sickly. Worst of all, though, it had to hear the way the people inside it criticized it, talked about how much they were sick of it and hated it. The library always felt deeply hurt and wounded by this, even though it knew, rationally, that the people didn’t actually mean it; they were only taking their frustration out on the library because they didn’t know it was sentient.

So the library took it, year after year, but it always dreamed of one day allowing itself to expel – with a violent shove out the door – all those spiteful people who decided to curse it for their own need for all-nighters.

Wrackspurts

“A Wrackspurt… They’re invisible. They float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy…” – Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I’ve had a Wrackspurt in my head all day. I didn’t have any classes and an interview I was supposed to have about my school’s Oxford program was canceled: I had a whole free day to do lots and lots and lots of work in. Total amount of time actually working? Probably about two-and-a-half hours. That’s all. I napped for too long, I messed around on the Internet for too long, and now I’m writing in my blog instead of working on the story I need to send to my writing teacher or continuing to make some headway with the notes I’m trying to organize on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Ugh.

I hate when this happens. I begin to feel guilty about not having done enough and it takes the pleasure out of the things that I do for fun. Even when I try to tell myself that I actually do have enough time, that things are going okay and that I’m mostly on top of my work, actually, I still somehow end up feeling guilty. And then I get stuck in obsessive thoughts; for example, I woke up from my nap at 4:50PM and then lay in bed feeling back about having taken a nap until 5:20PM, wasting another half hour that way and not managing to release myself from those obsessive, judgmental thoughts.

If anybody knows of a potion to get rid of wrackspurts and unfuzz the brain, let me know. Also, any un-guilt potions would be helpful.

Bright Side?

My dorm room has three windows; four, if you count the one that’s in the emergency exit door, which I don’t, because I keep the blind down on it at all times. The reason for that is that I’m on the first floor of my building, directly overlooking, from two windows, the main entrance used by students to come and go from main campus. The window in the exit door overlooks a little hill on which people sometimes sit and smoke when the weather permits. The last window overlooks an ugly tarred roof and from it I could see, if I wished, the windows of the apartments in what I can only call the second wing of the building. I keep that blind closed most of the time as well. So really, I have very little light coming into the room during the day, and at night all my blinds are closed except one, and that window is blocked by a screen so that the people walking below won’t be able to see me changing.

I’m a pretty private person, which is why I’m still ecstatic to have this single room, even if the windows aren’t quite as useful as I’d hoped. There are other downsides to the room, though. Since it’s right by the entrance, I get to hear all the drunk partiers who go out to smoke at one, two and three in the morning. At first, it really irked me. But lately I’ve grown used to it and have even come to see it as a plus. I can’t recognize people’s voices because of the echoing quality, but I can sometimes pick out some words and I try to remember them, to weave stories from them, to put images and faces to them.

I’m back at school after a lovely mini-break with my brother and his girlfriend in Washington D.C. I’m halfway through the semester. There are bright sides, too.

In-Class Writing Exercise Result

The writing class I took last year didn’t include writing exercises, which was fine with me. The writing class I’m taking this year, however, includes a few minutes of free writing every class, with three objects as our prompts. We sometimes read the results aloud, sometimes not, but it’s a nice way to keep our creative juices flowing, as they say. This is the paragraph that resulted from the seven-minute exercise on September 12:

“I need another coffee mug,” she said as she looked out the window, clutching the single one she already had. It was full of tea, not coffee, but she still called it a coffee mug. It had a corny photograph of NYC plastered over it and there was a chipped edge which she was always careful to hold on the other side, away from, ever since that time when she scratched her lip.
It had bled then, and she remembered the coppery taste of her own blood. “How weird, she said, “to remember blood while I’m drinking tea in my kitchen.”
There was no one there to hear her. She did this often – speaking to herself, that is – and she liked it. She’d been living alone for seven years (and wondered if that meant that good luck was coming her way) and she liked the way her voice reverberated in the empty apartment.
The wind blew outside and the tree that had its leaves mashed against the kitchen window swayed and creaked. It was a lonely tree, a tree that made moaning noises on cold nights.
The kitchen was her favorite room in the small apartment. It was the best place to congregate with friends (there were chairs for everyone there, good and drink as well) as well as a cozy place to sit with a coffee mug full of tea and think.
She wondered if it was time to get a cat. After all, living alone for seven years, the apartment still hadn’t seen the footprint of a man who was a lover. When she did have sex, it was always at their places. Would it be okay to leave a cat alone in the apartment overnight? Yes, of course, cats were independent, their own people with needs and wants.
“But am I read to be a crazy cat lady yet?” she thought aloud again. The words crazy and cat sounded nice together and she said them a few more times, walking in a circle around the table over and over again.

This is not my finest piece of writing, but I’m sharing it anyway, because I don’t usually post things that I haven’t read over and edited a couple times in the course of one sitting. This was entirely free-written, that is without taking the pen away from the page, without pausing to fix grammar or make things clear. It’s a good exercise that forces you not to over-think what you’re writing, which is something many of us tend to do.

Life?

I’ve been bad. I knew it would happen, and here – it has. Neglect has set in once more. And I was doing so well! I was posting every day, in the morning, even while I was in Vancouver! Oh, well. So it goes. Life happens. I know I shouldn’t beat myself up about it (but, well, it’s me, so I’m going to – but I needn’t subject my readers to my self-flagellation!)

Back on my beautiful campus, the past three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, moodiness, and more activity.  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to:

1) Classes:

-The Nineteenth Century Novel: for all you readers out there, doesn’t this sound exciting?! It is! The professor is perhaps the oldest on campus and gets tired rather quickly, but he has amazing insight and is still passionate about what we read. So far, we’ve read Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Talk about incredible syllabus. I’ve also been reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for the independent-study portion of this class. I’ve yet to make up my mind as to whether I like it or not.

-The Talking Cure: my very first psych-course ever, this lecture is turning out to be fantastic. There’s a lot of intricate reading, but it’s fascinating. I’ve been spending a lot of my out-of-class time discussing what I’ve been learning in this class. This is one of the things I love about college – these kinds of conversations are fun and mutual.

-Writing Workshop: I’m writing short stories for the first time in my life. I’ve been known to post some lengthier things here, in installments, but none have ever been very satisfying to me. A couple had resolutions, sure, but mostly I seem to know how to end very short pieces with a punch. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s interesting to be in a class that is solely for the purpose of writing short stories: our teacher is a meticulous reader and reads every workshop submission twice which is why he won’t accept novels. The experience of writing a short story is interesting and, to me, vastly different than that of writing a novel.

2) Book club: Two friends and I have started a weekly meeting in one of the coziest spaces on our campus and we invite people to come and read with us. For fun. Because we all have lots and lots AND LOTS of reading for classes, but we all miss reading for pleasure. Our book club was started so that we would have prescribed weekly time to just read for fun. We’ve had two meetings so far, and it’s been extremely fun.

3) Drama: No, not the kind of drama you’re thinking of! Thank goodness. There is drama on campus, of course; it’s inevitable, in such a small school or, indeed, anywhere. But I’ve been making sure not to involve myself actively in any of it. No, the drama I mean is my acting-for-fun impulse. I’ve been in our weekly cabaret/sketch style show, and have also been chosen to play Frank N’ Furter in our shadowcast production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show that will be happening a couple days before Halloween. This is my dream role, and I can’t describe the absolute astonishment I felt for being picked out to play the wonderful character. Lots of fishnet tights are in my near future.

Alrighty. Now I’m kind of all caught up. I need to catch up with all my bloggy-friends’ blogs. I miss reading them, and I’ve been trying not to fall too far behind on anyone, but I’m probably failing miserably. I will do my very best to begin posting regularly again and not to be a stranger to y’all.

Happy Thursday!